Police work lauded for gallery theft outcome

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Back home .. Oamaru artist Jill McIntyre has been reunited with the tiki she created. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

A ceramic tiki stolen from Oamaru’s Custom House Gallery in Tyne St last year has been returned to its rightful place.

A 32-year-old Oamaru man recently appeared in the Dunedin District Court charged with burglary. He pleaded guilty and was remanded in custody until sentencing at the Oamaru District Court on March 15.

A 50cm ceramic tiki, made by local artist Jill McIntyre, a hand-turned wooden bowl made of beechwood and a Christmas hamper were stolen from the gallery after a break-in on December 10, according to a police summary of facts.

The man, a freezing worker, had been drinking and was “moderately intoxicated”, police said.

He gained entry to the gallery by throwing a large rock through a kitchen window then climbing through it.

Once inside, he removed the tiki, wooden bowl and the hamper.

When spoken to by police, he said he had been drinking and acted impulsively.

The man showed remorse and paid for the costs associated with the replacement of the broken window and the hamper.

Mrs McIntyre praised the efforts of police and said she was “over the moon” when she heard the tiki had been returned after its brief “tiki tour”.

A North Otago Art Society spokesman said the society’s members were “delighted” when they were told the tiki and bowl had been recovered by police.

“The biggest thing is the excellent work of the police in taking evidence from the crime, making the arrest and getting the stuff back.”

It is thought to be the first time the gallery, owned by the art society, had been burgled.

The spokesman said bars were to be installed on the building’s windows that faced alleyways.